© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
Public Files Contact · ATSC 3.0 FAQ
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

CT GOP calls for bipartisan approach to election reforms, including absentee ballots

FILE, 2023: Bridgeport Democratic candidate for City Council Eneida Martinez, center, watches video of her placing absentee ballots into election drop boxes during Bridgeport Democratic Primary Mayoral candidate John Gomes’ challenge of absentee ballots in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Conn. on Friday, October 13, 2023. Geter-Pataky was advised by her lawyer John R. Gulash, right, not to answer questions regarding the absentee ballots to avoid self incrimination. At left is Judge William Clark.
Joe Buglewicz
Connecticut Public
Absentee ballots are counted at the Margaret E. Morton Government Center in Bridgeport on January 23 during the mayoral primary.

Republican lawmakers in Hartford are demanding the state form a bipartisan commission to examine election integrity, after four arrests last week in a Bridgeport absentee ballot fraud case related to the 2019 mayoral primary race.

Those charged in that case include Wanda Geter-Pataky, the vice chairwoman of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, and Alfredo Castillo, a member of Bridgeport’s city council, along with campaign workers Josephine Edmonds and Nilsa Heredia.

State House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said Thursday that the investigation shouldn’t stop at Bridgeport.

“Bridgeport is actually, you know, showing us where our holes are in our elections,” Candelora said.

Last year, allegations of election misconduct surfaced again in Bridgeport, this time garnering national attention. A judge ordered the city to redo its 2023 mayoral election after a video surfaced that appeared to show Geter-Pataky stuffing papers into a ballot drop box.

“We believe that it is time now for us to get together, Republicans and Democrats, form a commission, and give us real feedback on what type of reforms that we could see,” Candelora said.

Earlier this month, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed a law that requires the recording of absentee ballot drop boxes and other measures targeting election security and absentee ballot reforms.

Republican State Sen. Rob Sampson said that he and his colleagues have proposed signature verification, and other reforms, on absentee ballots.

“Sadly, every time we do, they are voted down on party lines,” Sampson said.

He also questioned the integrity of other local elections.

“You don't have to look too far to see elections that are decided by a very small number of votes. In the town of Southington, in the 2022 cycle, there was an election decided by one vote,” Sampson said.

That election in Southington, Connecticut, saw nearly 10,600 ballots cast in the race between Republican Tony Morrison and Democrat Christopher Poulos to represent the 81st State Assembly District. The Associated Press reported the initial election night tally was tight: Poulous held a six vote lead. A mandatory recount narrowed the gap even further to just one vote. Poulos won.

Senate Democratic leaders said the GOP’s proposals would limit voting access. They linked the effort to the attempted overturn of the 2020 presidential election.

“Republican attempts to restrict Connecticut residents' ability to exercise their right to vote is no surprise from a political party that tried to overturn a presidential election and passes draconian voter restrictions at the state level across the country," Senate President Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said in a joint statement.

Connecticut Public’s Jim Haddadin, Bria Lloyd, Michayla Savitt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.